Notes on the Notes – May 5, 2013

Theme:  Visions of a Different/Better World

Today’s Readings:                                                              Acts 16:9-15, Psalm 67, Revelation 21:10, 22-22:5

Today’s Music:

“What is the Place” (G #70) This Dutch hymn by Jesuit priest, Huub Oosterhuis (1968) was translated to English by David Smith in 1970.  The music is Varius’ Nederlandtsche gedenckklanck (1626).  What is a church? Is it a building? While having a “place” to gather is important, our building is no more the church than a wrapper is the candy bar. What’s inside is what counts. Unlike a candy bar, however, a church is a living entity – composed of real people led by a living head, Jesus Christ. Long ago St. Paul called the church a living, breathing, functioning “body.” As the first vese of this hymn states:

“What is the place where we are meeting?  Only a house, the earth its floor,  walls and a roof sheltering people, windows for light, an open door.  Yet it becomes a body that lives when we are gathered here, and know our God is near”


“O Holy City, Seen of John” (VU #709) – This hymn presents a strong plea to work for the completion of creation, under the metaphor of the City of God.   Walter Russell Bowie, an American biblical scholar, took part in the preparation of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible and was an editor of the Interpreter’s Bible.  Bowie’s advocacy for what was becoming known as the Social Gospel was given expression in his support for the League of Nationa, advocacy for US immigration reform, his opposition to the Ku Klux Klan and Fundamentalism .  The theme of this text, based on Revelation 21:2-22:5, is the preparation in the present life for the future Kingdom of God, but may also be interpreted as working toward the Kingdom of God here on Earth.  The hymn was written for Henry Sloane Coffin and published in Sloane’s “Hymns of the Kingdom” (1910).   The tune, MORNING SONG, is an American folk hymn, found in numerous 19th-century American tune books.

“I Rejoice!” – This beautiful anthem  by Don Besig and Nancy Price was commissioned in honor and celebration of Mary Jane Graf’s 50+ years of faithful service and dedication in the music ministry of Lazarus UCC, Lineboro, MD by her loving husband, Donald Graf and family.  The song opens with the words:

“Each and ev’ry day, as I go my way, I believe the Lord is at my side.  With ev’ry step I take, ev’ry choice I make, I will always let my Saviour be my guide.  I can feel the joy that fills my soul, for I know God’s grace has made me whole.  I rejoice, I lift my voice to sing with joy and adoration.  I will raise my song of praise and share the love of Christ, my Saviour and my King.”

The song also quotes the familiar hymn tune of “Come, Christians, join to sing.”

“Praise to God, Your Praise Show – Psalm 150” – (VU #875) – Henry Francis Lyte published this paraphrase of Psalm 150 in his Spirit of the Psalms (1834).  Robert Williams was a blind musician, reputed to have an exceptional memory for tunes, who make his living as a basket maker in Mynydd Ithel, Llanfechell, Anglesey.  It is not know whether this tune is his own composition of a Welsh folk melody he wrote down.  It was publised under the BETHEL.  This psalm of praise is reminiscent of Psalm 67.

“The Hebrew Benediction” –(VU #965) – This well-love blessing, taken from Numbers 6:24-26 is quoted in Psalm 67.   It is called the Aaronic blessing and plays a significant role in Old Testament literature, especially the book of Psalms.

 However, one should note an important difference between psalms that allude to Numbers 6:24-26 and the text of Numbers 6:24-26 itself.  The text in Numbers clearly distinguishes between the words to be spoken by the priests and the act of blessing itself, which is to be performed by Yahweh.

Although this is a short psalm, it is an important one. Those who wrote the liturgy for the Church of England appointed this psalm to be read in every worship service.  The psalm reflects the blessing that the Aaronic priests were to pronounce on Israel:  “The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.”

But this psalm is also rooted in God’s covenant promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3), “And I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”

For a beautiful video of a sung version of Psalm 67, go to





Categories: Music Programs, Sunday Bulletin and Announcements, Worship
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